Latest research news

November 8, 2006

Radioactive antibodies hunt out HIV-infected cells
For decades researchers have wondered what it would take to eliminate the immunodeficiency virus HIV from a patient's body. Now they think that radioactive antibodies might do the trick. Scientists from the United States and Germany have combined antibodies that seek out cells infected with HIV with radioactive payloads that can destroy them, as they report in the 6 November issue of PLoS Medicine . Harris Goldstein at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York, who led the team, says the new approach might be used to kill HIV-infected cells soon after a person is infected, in an attempt to stop the virus establishing a permanent beachhead in the body.
Nature, New Scientist

TV is more attractive than the human face to children
Children are so obsessed with television that they prefer to look at a blank screen than a smiling human face, psychologists have found. In a study of more than 200 children in Scotland, academics discovered that youngsters between six and eight responded to pictures of televisions in the same way alcoholics reacted to pictures of drink. Previous studies have shown that, from birth, people naturally look at faces before other objects. But the research from the University of Stirling and the University of Glasgow has shown that when a computer display with a picture of a face and a television set is flashed in front of them, many children look at the TV first.
The Scotsman, The Times

Jet-lagged mice die young, US study finds
Jet-lagged mice die younger, researchers said in a study that suggests that working unusual shifts and flying back and forth across time zones takes a permanent toll on health. Tests on more than 100 mice showed that old mice forced to live on a confusing schedules of light and darkness, simulating rotating shifts or international travel, died sooner than those on gentler schedules. Young mice treated in a similar way did just fine, the researchers at the University of Virginia added in a report published in the journal Current Biology . Gene Block, a professor of biology, and colleague Alec Davidson said they stumbled onto the findings by accident.
The Scotsman

Scientists seek permission for human-cow embryos
Scientists in Britain have asked for permission to create "hybrid" embryos from animal eggs and human cells for medical research into some of the most intractable diseases. The aim is to create a cloned embryo by fusing a nucleus from a human skin cell with a cow's egg that has had its own cell nucleus removed. Genetically, the embryo would be 99.9 per cent human and 0.1 per cent cow which would, in effect, make it a human embryo and therefore subject to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act. Two teams of researchers at Newcastle University and King's College London yesterday submitted a joint application for a research licence to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, the body which polices the Act.
The Independent, The Scotsman, New Scientist

Memory test puts pigeons high in pecking order
No wonder pigeons never get lost on the way home. According to psychologists, who spent five years exploring the limits of the birds' brains, the creatures have remarkably good memories. The extent of their skills became apparent when scientists flashed images in front of the birds and trained them to peck in a particular place if they recognised an image later on. Pigeons managed to memorise 800 to 1,200 pictures before their memories started to fill and their performance tailed off, said Joël Fagot at the Mediterranean Institute of Cognitive Neurosciences in Marseille, who conducted the study with Robert Cook at Tufts University in Boston. One bird remembered 68 per cent of 1,978 pictures. "Pigeons are very visual animals and we knew they had good memories, but we didn't know they were this good," said Dr Fagot.
The Guardian, The Evening Standard

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